Indie or Traditional?

Wow, there is so much I could blog about this week. After a month or more of trying to figure out what to blog about, there has been a flood of topics. There is the news that the Supreme Court has refused to hear Apple’s appeal of the price fixing judgment. (Has Apple ever failed to reach this level before?)  Then there is the news about Samhain shutting its doors. Let’s not forget Randy Penguin’s announcement that it is laying off a “number” of people at Berkley/NAL, including four editors. Those are just a few of the possible topics that came across my desk this week.

All are great topics but a video I saw over at The Passive Voice caught my eye the most. Well, to be honest, it was the comments that really caught my eye. I’ve not seen so many “bless his heart” comments in a long while. That was enough to have me sit through the almost six minutes to find out why this unnamed fellow deserved so many Southern “blessings”.

Before we get into the heart of the video, let’s start with what we know — or don’t know — about the man making it. He is, apparently, an agent. He is from Great Britain. His accent and reference to pounds instead of dollars sort of gives that away. But that’s it.

Now to the video, “Seven reasons why you shouldn’t self publish” (His reasons are italicized)

1.It’s expensive because you have to pay for jacket design, “all the photos”, copy editing and proofreading. He goes on to say he doesn’t feel comfortable with any system that forces authors to pay money to enter the marketplace.

Oh, my. Where to begin?

First of all, you don’t have to hire someone to design your cover. There are templates out there you can download for free. There are detailed instructions to walk you through building your cover. There are free photo manipulation programs as well. As for “all the photos”, I don’t think I have ever paid more than $10 for cover elements. I will admit that I don’t build my own covers, not the final versions. I find what I want and then talk to Sarah or Cedar or a couple of others I know and then trade services. I will copy edit/proofread if they will make what I have drafted as a cover look good. (I’ll admit right here that lettering is my downfall.)

As for the copy editing and proofreading, I admit to shaking my head when this so-called agent didn’t mention content editing. Again, copy editing and proofreading are services you can trade off with other authors for. Effective use of beta readers will also handle a lot of those issues. So, again, no money out of pocket. Nor did this agent mention the fact that there are writers who are traditionally published and who pay to have their work edited before they send it to their publishers because they have learned the hard way that is the only way quality editing will happen.

But what really had me scratching my head was his comment about not being comfortable with any system that “forces authors to pay money to enter the marketplace.” At first, I wondered if he was conflating self-publishing with publishing through a vanity press. After all, those presses, and I use that term loosely, are notorious for making authors pay large sums of money for the production of the books and then forcing the authors to buy a certain number of books that they then have to hand sell.

Then he went on to say that the expense of producing a book should be the responsibility of “big corporations”. Okay, that’s to be expected from someone who makes his living by selling his clients’ work to these traditional publishers. But does he really think authors don’t get that, by going with a traditional publisher, you are paying them in a way? Not only is the author signing over rights to their book for a period of time, they are also giving up the majority of any moneys that might come in from sales of the book. Giving up that money is, if you are honest about it, paying the publisher to publish you. That is especially true regarding e-books when there is no shipping cost, no storage cost, no printing cost and, if you are really honest about it, no editing cost because the book has already been edited. Yet, the authors still receive less than 50% of the royalty in many contracts for digital sales.

2. Self-publishing is complicated.

I’ll admit it. This is the sort of statement that has me digging my heels in and deciding I will do something just because someone says it’s too complicated for my little brain to comprehend. In this case, the agent says that it is complicated because you have to do typesetting, jacket designs, blurbs, etc. First, this seems to be at odds with the above when he said it cost so much to have all that done. Second, I repeat what I said. There are templates, etc., out there and they are easy to follow. Third, you have to have a blurb ready when you send the book to an agent — and your elevator pitch, etc. — and some publishers actually want an author’s input on such things. So, again, where is the problem?

3. “Rule of Life”. 

He used the example of a doctor shouldn’t diagnose himself to show that an author shouldn’t be his own publicist. I’ll admit that he was right when he said that a lot of writers are introverts and suck at promotion. I know I do. But there is something else he didn’t mention. Most publishers want their authors to have a “platform”. They want you to blog and be active on social media, etc., In other words, they want you to be your own publicist. Agents look for that sort of thing as well. The last time I went shopping for an agent, most of them wanted to know what my platform was and what sort of promotion I was already doing and what I would do in the future. So, why should an author worry about having to do something as an indie if he would have to do it anyway with a traditional publishing contract?

4. “Why should I wait weeks and months for someone to get back to me and then I won’t even get any feedback?” (Paraphrased)

See my comments under 5 since it relates back to this.

5. Indie publishing puts off agents and publishers.

He says this is because the author has missed the “debut bloom”. He goes on to say that you need to sell in the high five figure to hundreds of thousands of copies of your indie book to impress a publisher.

That’s when I fell out of my chair, laughing hysterically. Yes, it scared the dog and the cats looked at me like I’d lost my mind. Of course a traditional publisher would like someone with that sort of history to come knocking on their door. Unfortunately for the indie author, the track record of traditional publishers maintaining that level of sales for the author after signing a contract is poor. Part of it is that they don’t promote the author like the author promoted herself. Part is the difference in pricing. More folks will buy an e-book at $4.99 (or lower) than they will at $12.99. Not that traditional publishing gets that. They simply see a higher profit margin instead of more of a lower margin. There comes a point in profit where you will make more by selling more at a lower cost.

What he didn’t say, and what may have been at the back of his mind, is that agents and publishers are scared of indie authors. Sure, they might sign one to a contract but they know the indie author knows what sort of money she made on her own. She knows how to read royalty statements and, more importantly from the author’s point of view, she knows that she has an alternative to traditional publishing. She knows she doesn’t have to be tied to traditional publishing to make money or get her books into the hands of her fans.

6. It’s a short cut.

Duh. Of course, he isn’t talking about the time from completion to submission to acceptance to publication if you go the traditional route. He’s talking that you aren’t going through the gatekeeper and, therefore, you may be putting out sub-standard work. He talks about how a writer’s first — and maybe even his second, third and fourth — novel should be consigned to the bottom drawer.

I will admit that he is probably right here. I know that my first novel was best suited for bonfire fodder. I also suspect that there are some first novels making it into the self-published venues. The reality is, someone may buy that book and be burned. That may turn them off of indie books, or at least make them more leery about buying one. That is why the preview function for e-books is so important. It lets readers have a sample of what they are considering buying.

That said, the real issue from the traditional publishing standpoint is that indie is a short cut and bypasses the gatekeepers. It is a boon for readers because they can find just about anything they want.

7. It stops writers from writing.

Yes and no. Yes, as an indie author I have to make sure my work is edited and there is a good cover for it, etc. However, if I were traditionally published, I’d still have to go over editorial notes (or I should). I should also have page proofs to check. As mentioned above, I would still have to be doing my own promotion and maintain my own platform. The only thing I might not have any input on is the cover.

None of this is a condemnation of traditional publishing. It is the route best for a number of authors. I wouldn’t walk away from an offer if it came from Baen because I know the sort of books put out by the house and I trust Toni and company to remember that their authors aren’t interchangeable widgets (something other publishers fail to keep in mind). But it isn’t the only game in town any longer and authors need to remember that. After all, a publisher has only so many slots per month. Of those slots, there are even fewer slots for a “new” author. As indie has shown us, there are many more good to excellent books being written than there are slots available. That is a good thing for the reader and, as writers, aren’t they the ones we have to ultimately win over?

And, since I am bad at self-promo, I’d better take advantage of this opportunity to push some of my work.

Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3)

War isn’t civilized and never will be, not when there are those willing to do whatever is necessary to win. That is a lesson Col. Ashlyn Shaw learned the hard way. Now she and those under her command fight an enemy determined to destroy their home world. Worse, an enemy lurks in the shadows, manipulating friend and foe alike.

Can Ashlyn hold true to herself and the values of her beloved Corps in the face of betrayal and loss? Will honor rise from the ashes of false promises and broken faith? Ashlyn and the Devil Dogs are determined to see that it does, no matter what the cost.

Slay Bells Ring

Fifteen years ago, Juliana Grissom left Mossy Creek in her rear view mirror. She swore then she would never return for more than a day or two at a time. But even the best laid plans can go awry, something she knew all too well, especially when her family was involved.

Now she’s back and her family expects her to find some way to clear her mother of murder charges. Complicating her life even further is Sam Caldwell, the man she never got over. Now it seems everyone in town is determined to find a way to keep her there, whether she wants to stay or not.

Bodies are dropping. Gossip is flying and Juliana knows time is running out. After all, holidays can be murder in Mossy Creek.

Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4)

The one thing Lt. Mackenzie Santos had always been able to count on was the law. But that was before she started turning furry. Now she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy to keep the truth from the public-at-large. She knows they aren’t ready to learn that monsters are real and they might be living next door.

If that isn’t enough, trouble is brewing among the shapeshifters. The power struggle has already resulted in the kidnapping and near fatal injury of several of Mac’s closest friends. She is now in the middle of what could quickly turn into a civil war, one that would be disastrous for all of them.

What she wouldn’t give to have a simple murder case to investigate and a life that didn’t include people who wanted nothing more than to add her death to the many they were already responsible for.


    1. Actually, Adobe is terrible for making .epub and .mobi files. It loads up the file with irrelevant markups that increase the file size and can screw up a reader’s presets. Open Office and Calibre (both of which are free to use) are much better for e-book and POD design.

          1. I self-publish my books using Word 2007, and I would compare my results to what’s out there. (Note that I have typesetting and layout experience, so I’m not a total newbie.)

            Also I have a secret: I look at books and use what I like.

            1. I have used Word 2007– too. And do have typesetting experience–a long long time ago (80s). I find InDesign easier… i.e. when I get it set up, it is pretty quick… and what I see is what I will see in the PDF.

            2. As much crap as Word gets, I’ve found it to work out fairly well for the book projects I’ve done. It took some practice and learning how to use section breaks properly, but the new SFF fiction magazine I just put out was laid out entirely in Word 2010.

              Also, even though it needed a few tweaks from the print version, what Amazon’s Self-Publish Kindle service did in terms of creating an eBook from a word file ended up looking better than anything I was able to do with something like Calibre.

              1. That’s something I haven’t tried; using my Word file to create a Kindle book. I may have to try this with a low-risk book project.

                1. Basically all I had to do for the magazine was swap out the dropcaps for regular characters and tweak the TOC page, and it looked good on the Amazon virtual previewer.

                  The Choose Your Own Adventure book I wrote took a bit more work, but mostly because I went in and removed page numbers then hyperlinked all of the choice nodes.

                  1. I use Word for Amazon, D2D, and Smashwords. It seems to work just fine. The TOC is tedious, but not beyond me.

      1. Oh, well, I’m thinking cover design.
        inDesign’s a bit pricey on the front end, but if you consider what ::fingerquotes:: “professional cover design” costs, it’ll pay for itself if you plan on being a self-published author.

          1. Took me a while to get over the learning curve on Gimp – but after doing a number of covers with it I’m pretty happy with it.

              1. LOL – well, yes, I’m comfortable with it. But I’ve been working more in Photoshop since I anticipate that being something I’ll need professionally more often. Gimp tutorials are all over, so if you run into a specific problem, google will usually get you a tut that solves it.

                1. I did a cover recently myself using Photoshop Elements. There are Youtube tutorials for that, too, and, boy, did I need them.

      2. You might check out a more recent version of InDesign. Since Amazon quit updating their Kindle plug-in, it no longer creates .mobi files. It does, however, do a much better job than before of creating epub files, particularly fixed-layout versions. Apple has no problem with the reflowable and fixed-layout epubs. And I’ve not had any problem sending Amazon/Kindle an ID epub for conversion to .mobi and KF8. The only hitch I’ve found it that Smashwords is peculiarly picky about epubs. They’d rather you send them an ebook in Word for Windows.

    2. Practice and patience. InDesign is good — once you get over the learning curve, something I am working on right now. Sigh.

      1. Yeah. The more artistically inclined may find more flexibility and capabilities within Photoshop, but if you have someone else doing your artwork and all you need to do is placement and text, inDesign is great. So far, I’ve used it for two books and nearly a dozen CDs/LPs.

        I keep petitioning Createspace to offer inDesign templates for their covers. United Record Pressing used idd templates for their record jackets, and the Halloween LP I put out with them, The Worst Music Dracula Ever Heard, was one of the smoothest creative design projects I ever worked on.

  1. You are awesome, btw. I love these posts you do shredding the stupid and trying to help the less-informed. When I first read the subject of this, I thought, “Of course an agent would put something out to discourage writers from going the independent way.” But you put it all so eloquently. I was reading bits to Hubs and we were both laughing. Thanks!

  2. > you don’t have to hire someone to design your cover

    Who was it, Signet? that used to pose dolls or “action figures”, take a photograph, and use that for their covers?

    I always figured that to make something that bad, one of the publisher’s children was doing that job…

    1. Yep, and more than one major publisher has been caught using stock photos of late for their “one of a kind” covers.

  3. 4. “Why should I wait weeks and months for someone to get back to me and then I won’t even get any feedback?” (Paraphrased)

    WTF? This is an agent asking this about Indie publishing? The one, the only, time I didn’t have to wait “weeks and months” for someone to get back to me (and, no, I didn’t get any feedback except “does not suit our needs at this time”) was when I was able to use Mike Resnick’s name as an intro (“Mike Resnick gave me your name as a possible contact”–I most especially did not say that he endorsed the work since he hadn’t even seen the work–we’d just chatted in the con suite at a nearby con).

    I’ve got one that’s been, quite literally, years out and the only feedback is it’s gradually working its way up the chain to the publisher’s desk (where it sits now, waiting for said publisher to get to it).

    Have to wait for someone to get back to you in Indie? Give me a break.

    1. I laughed when I heard him say that. I’ve had the less than 3 minute rejection — yep, I hadn’t hardly sent the query when the rejection was sent back. No way anyone would have had time to read it. I’ve had something sit on an editor’s desk for months and then have an editorial assistant tell me they MIGHT be interested if I change the POV to first person and make the main character more kickass (yes, they wanted Mac Santos to be more kickass). By the time I told them not only no, but hell no, I worried I had waited too long to bring the book out indie. Fortunately, I did find an audience for it and the sequels.

  4. I see indie publishing as a combination of creative endeavor and having a small business – and if you view it that way, most of the agent’s points become irrelevant. If all you are interested in is the craft/art of writing, then, yeah, indie publishing is probably not for you, except as a cheap version of using a vanity press. If you want to turn it into a profession, it may be for you – but the difference between trad and indie is the difference between applying to a job and starting a business.

    If it’s a business, spending money (or substituting money with time and sweat) is a necessity, and point #1 becomes moot. Like any business, it takes money to make money, and no guarantees that the making money part will happen. And going trad may not require spending money up front, but you will be paying on the back end, and paying a lot: agent’s fees, return reserves, and eternal rights giveaways (ebooks mean that your book will forever be “in print” so good luck getting it back even if it’s selling a couple copies a year, unless the language in the contract stipulates otherwise).

    The quality issue: well, I’d rather let the market decide what’s quality and what it isn’t. That’s why there is a review system, and Amazon lets you take a look at a good portion of each book. Given the success rate of trad publishing – most books don’t earn out, major best-sellers are routinely rejected dozens of times before finally finding someone willing to take a chance on them – they mostly don’t know what’s good, for values of good that translate into sales. So why the heck should I let them decide what’s good or not? The answer, of course, used to be ‘because they control the means of distribution.’ Well, the times, they are a’changing.

    Amusing how one of the points the agent makes is really a not-so-subtle threat: go indie and we’ll blacklist you, unless you turn out to be Andy Weir 2.0 with a bullet. I’m quaking in my boots. And guess what, if I turn out to be Andy Weir 2.0, don’t expect any calls from me.

    #7, the time issue, is utter bull crap. Unless you’re a trust fund baby, chances are you’re doing something to pay for your room and board while you pen the next Great ‘Murican Novel, and that’s going to eat into your writing time, too. The self-pubbing icky business bits (Eww, trade? What sort of artist goes into trade?) are a side job. It means you need to manage your time. Sure, if you go trad you’ll get a big fat check so you’ll be able to quit your day job and spend some quality time with the ol’ muse… oh, wait, no; if you win Slush Pile Lotto, your prize is one third of a pretty mediocre check that may pay a month or two of rent during the six months before the book is done and you get the second third of said check. I’m guessing you won’t be quitting your day job, unless your name is Snooki or Clinton.

    Now, if I were twenty years younger and in no hurry, I’d submit my books to trad publishers. But I’m old and time’s winged chariot is nipping at my butt, so after one generic rejection slip, I went indie, and two years later it’s now my full-time job, which means I got time to write and time to market/edit/audition Audible readers/play Marvel Superheroes/watch cute kitty videos. So, for me at least, the agent’s advice is terrible.

    1. Well said! You are exactly right. While Indie isn’t for everyone, it is a viable option. What I would really like to see are agents who educate themselves on what it means to be a successful indie and then be honest with their clients about whether they have a better chance indie or traditional. In return, the agent can offer ala carte services (at a discount for clients and premium for others) for editing, etc. There is money to be made in doing that sort of thing because not every author wants to deal with cover design or finding a good editor, etc.

      1. Frankly, I’ve been looking at how lots of Japan’s more popular animes started out as indie web novels and there’s a phenomenon there callled the text novel – chapters fit into the length of a text message.

        Those who’d sneer at anime and manga should look at the phenomenon that is Sword Art Online. It started out as an indie offering that caught the eye of publishers, and very quickly spun out into published novels, manga and anime adaptations, video games and the basis for a test for a full-immersion experimental VR-MMO backed by IBM Japan. And that’s not even getting into the related products market that is it’s own branch industry.

        Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There started out as a free webnovel, got picked up by a Japanese publisher, which resulted in novels, manga and anime; and the real JSDF have used art from the anime for recruitment posters. There seems to be a video game in the works too.

        And then there’s the thing Lt. Itami Youji was trying to save at the start of the story: Comiket. That huge, twice a year market for mostly indie-published doujinshi that’s branched out to not just fan or indie-made comics but also music, games and animated features.

        The success an indie author / artist /etc has the potential of in Japan dwarfs, in my own opinion, that of Andy Weir’s by a couple of orders of magnitude when you take into consideration that the adaptations and related swag go beyond ‘book… movie… soundtrack/artbook.’

        But hey, what’re we supposed to know, right? I’m just a Western anime fan ‘who doesn’t know better.’ /sarc

  5. The biggest investment is the same – the time to write. And no traditional publisher will provide you a computer and software. After those items a cover is a minor matter.

  6. Sounds like that “shortcut” is needed. “Yes, we bypass this set of arbitrary filters that eat time and money and get to the potential audience – the folks with the money – as fast as we can.”

  7. When the self-help indy author group I belonged to was going strong, someone brought up the topic of how many books you’d sell as an indy author before an agent might be interested in you, as having proved that yes, indeedy, there was an audience for your books. Someone threw out the figure of (IIRC) 5,000 copies – yeah, that would get an agent interested for sure! And one of the other authors said that if they sold 5,000 copies of a book on their own — then what in heck did they need an agent for, again?

    1. Of course it depends a bit on how long that took and how many books you have that can do that. But yeah in general, at 5k books you already earned out your trad pub initial poxy advance. And if Indy you probably earned way more than you would have as a trad pubbed person.

    2. I think what this video proves is that agents are so tied to traditional publishing that they have forgotten that their real duty is to insure action is taken in the best interest of their clients. We’ve been seeing this for years in the way agents haven’t fought against some of the more onerous contract terms publishers insist on, saying it’s just standard boilerplate. We’ve seen it in how they haven’t condemned the publishers for ditching so many of the mid-listers, the one set of authors they always knew would sell at least a certain number of books.Now, with indie being a viable option for authors, and option that doesn’t require an agent, those agents are running scared because they haven’t figured out how to adapt to the new world of publishing.

  8. Bottom line: you’re a relatively new writer, so how much will your book earn?
    Will you make more from a trad publisher, or going your own way as an Indie?
    If you’re selling in the ‘high fives’, you don’t need a publisher. For that matter, if your books earn more than say, $5000, you’re probably breaking even. Never having gotten a new-author contract, I may be off by quite a bit. But as has been repeatedly pointed out by others, if your book doesn’t earn out in three months or so, that initial payment is all you’re going to get. Finis, done.
    One of my books has made more than that in three months. It’s still selling. The sequel is written, and after I quit spinning my wheels here, I’ll get back to editing it. I expect it to do even better, because I’ve had people asking when the sequel will be released.
    Money; it’s the root of all comparisons, and traditional or indie is specifically included.

  9. Looking at the video on YouTube, I was surprise to see it came out on March 3 of this year. Mr. Blofeld seems to indeed be a literary agent with a London based firm of Sheil Land Associates, Ltd. One of the agents at Sheil Land Associates, Ltd, is Sonia Land, who set up the Peach Publishing, and made a deal to sell e-book back with the Catherine Cookson estate. From the furor at that time, several agencies were moving to act as publishers, causing a bit of controversy. There was also some controversy when Random House cut a deal directly with Tom Sharpe, who is represented by Sheil Land Associates, Ltd, for his back list. A check shows that they still represent the Tom Sharpe Estate.

    A check shows a different Peach Publishing in Georgia. I did find some paperbacks published by Peach Publishing with an author represented by Sheil Land Associates, Ltd.

    At this point I don’t know if it’s a case of Mr. Blofeld having dated information and/or a bit of self interest. I take it at face value that Mr. Blofeld believes what he said.

    1. Does Mr. Blofeld have a large white cat who sits on his lap? Inquiring Bond fans wonder.

  10. You’re forgetting the implied though not explicitly stated #8.
    OMG if you authors all go indie my job as an agent becomes obsolete and I’ll have to dig ditches for a living.
    Now a smart agent with experience in the field would offer a service. If the work had merit they would coordinate setting the author up with all those necessary functions normally expected from trad pub like cover development, final copy edit, marketing and promotion, adding the polish to take a book indie with better chance of success. Such an agent could demand a good bit better than the traditional 10-15%, say in the 25-30% range. I think they’d clean up.

    1. I do believe a smart agent with a lot of connections within the field could transition to that kind of service very neatly: put an aspiring indy author in touch with a good selection of guaranteed service providers, for a percentage of the eventual take in sales. Likely it would not be very much from an individual author …. but having a nice cut from a large stable of authors over time could pay very well indeed.

  11. That British agent is leaving us with a between-the-lines message: He’s begging us not to destroy his job. Sorry, old chap, but destroying your job is now more or less my job. Ignore my back for forty years and I’ll be damned if I’ll scratch yours.

    Next issue: There’s a lingering perception that creating good-quality ebooks requires hand-coding your own HTML/CSS. I know people who still do that, though I think they do it because they already knew HTML/CSS as a hobby or a job. In truth it’s a miserable waste of time.

    It is true that there is still no single tool for generating ebooks that does as good a job as InDesign does for print books (I’ve been using InDesign since V1.0) and I’ve been encouraging my programmer friends to create and market a true ebook-oriented WYSIWYG book editor/generator. As close as I’ve seen in the market so far is Jutoh, a $39 product with which I’ve done my last several books. There’s an $80 version that’s scriptable, though I have no need for that feature and haven’t tried it.

    Creating ebooks with something like Jutoh is a logical extension of word processing, and a skill that all writers should force themselves to develop. The more you can do for yourself, the less you’ll have to pay somebody else to do for you–with the bonus that someone else may be willing to pay you for something that you’ve learned how to do.

      1. I use only InDesign for anything to be published on paper. I use only Jutoh for ebooks. We standardized on ID at my publishing company when the product first came out in 1999, and I think we picked the right horse. Adobe’s corporate paranoia gets on my nerves a lot, which is why I’m still using ID CS (2005) in retirement and have not tried ID’s ebook features.

        Do you publish POD editions? I’ve been very disappointed in my POD SF book sales, and have been wondering for a year or so if they’re worth the trouble.

        1. Not yet. Everyone says print sales are lower than ebooks. I would defer to others here on that, but I’m planning to do it as a marketing matter. Also, I want copies of my books that I can hold. It will feel more “real.” I’ve finally figured out that I’m daunted by the task of going to print. I’m someone who can can tell when something is good, and I can follow rules for visual design, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why something visual works or not without being told. The constituent parts are lost on me. So, it’s scary. I think I need one of those creatures called a book designer, at least for the first time I do this.

          1. One way to do it is this: Find a book in the genre you’re working that looks good to you, and then imitate the hell out of it. Laying out fiction is far less of a design challenge than laying out technical books, or cookbooks, or anything that isn’t mostly paragraphs and titles. Many good books on InDesign exist, and can be had cheap on the used/remainder market. (I’m guessing you have at least a few of them.) I recommend How to Wow in InDesign CS2 by Wayne Rankin & Mike McHugh.

            Don’t despair before you give it a shot.

        2. I make it a point to offer CreateSpace books. The cost investment is minimal, the profit is higher, the discount price for Kindle is higher (by that I mean they’ll show the Kindle price and say “70% discount” because they base it off the TPB price) so that looks better, and you have books to sell at public appearances and craft fairs.

          1. Interesting. I haven’t done the numbers on CreateSpace yet but clearly need to do that ASAP. Are you saying that the prices for the POD edition and the KDP edition are necessarily linked? Print book layout is easy for me, so there may be more money lying on this table than I thought.

            1. Also, if you are in KDP Select, you can offer your e-books for a discount (or free) to those who buy the print version. I think they are calling that the Matchbook (or something like it).

        3. My POD sales are nothing compared to the e-book sales but I still have a few that get bought. What I do like them for is to have them with me as props when I take part in workshops, etc. I will give them away or, if it is an author even, hand sell them.

    1. Exactly-. “please don’t take away my job”

      and if you have hundreds of thousands of sales of an indie ebook, the only thing you’d be giving an agent is the finger.

      1. That’s a bad use of a good finger. A writer selling hundreds of thousands of indie Kindle ebooks a year would be making more than I was making as EVP/Editorial Director of a $25M publishing firm in 2000. Agents wouldn’t even be on their radar.

        Agents aren’t the core problem, though. Publishing companies are offering increasingly obnoxious contracts that attempt to take total control not only of a writer’s books but also his/her general writing life. If that’s all an agent could bring me, I won’t even dignify them by laughing.

    2. Shudder. I remember the days when the only way to get a decent looking e-book was to hand code it. I do NOT miss those days.

      I’ll have to check out Jutoh. I looked at it several years ago and decided not to go with it. Maybe it is time to look at it again.

      1. Shudder indeed. I shudder, and I’m an assembly language programmer.

        Jutoh’s improved *hugely* since I first tried it some years back. Both *The Cunning Blood* and *Ten Gentle Opportunities* were done from scratch in Jutoh. The creator of the product has written a book-sized instruction manual for it, which makes up for some modest lapses on the usability side.I recommend it, especially since there’s nothing else that does as much and works as well.

  12. This does just drip of being a ‘please pay me’ piece. Last time I went looking for paper books I remember that the vast, vast majority are either upper list or old. Your new authors ain’t gonna get much at best. Never mind (Just like the ATH comment threading on jobs) the industry expects groveling and the author to have basically done all of the work. Maybe if it’s top echelon you can get some actual review and the like but it seems a lot of the review is like that in the textbook industry. The readers.

    The converse of this is the fact that organizations that should help authors find those that can do this are completely beholden to the publishers already and effectively run by them.

    1. Yep. It has always baffled me to find author organizations — those like you spoke about that are supposed to help authors and advocate for them — allowing agents and publishers be members. That seems like a very big conflict of interest.

  13. What’s that saying about how we as a society tend to overestimate the rate of change in the short term but underestimate it in the long run?

    Five years ago, we indies were predicting the end of print (or “dead tree books”). Of course, print is still around, and with it most of the legacy support structure, including literary agents like this one. But change is coming, as this barely coherent agent’s head-in-the-sand rant confirms.

    I’m so glad to be a writer in this day and age. There never has been a better time in history for this profession.

    1. I agree. There are very few publishers I would consider going with right now — fewer than the number of fingers I have on one hand. Indie has been good to me but part of me would still like to have that trad contract just so all my eggs weren’t in one basket.

  14. Yes, he’s definitely living up to the Henry Cho definition of “Bless His Heart”……

    the world is changing, and he’s showing the reaction time to the changes that make a sloth look like a raptor. Hell, he’s coming close to the reaction time of the characters from “Between the Strokes of Night”.

  15. Holy flark! The stupid is strong with this one!

    The agent and the YouTube video, I mean. The fisk was quite well done.

  16. Stupid WordPress login process on mobile browser is stupid. I think it lost my comment, which is:

    You write puff/cover-blurbs which are effective at making me interested on reading your books; they (your blurbs) are much better than the “run of the mill” out there, 90% of which leave me uninterested in even browsing the sample.

  17. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    The man is being ridiculous.
    Look, if the publishers weren’t total disasters and people like him weren’t so tied to the publishers he might have a point. On the other hand if you are the majority that need to maximize your revenue from your writing time, going indie is the right way. BTW, 4000 copies at $2.99 is 12k and you will see 8k of that at Amazon which is a very good month’s work. And of course there’s always next month. He talks about writers writing. Well if you write a book and toss it in the drawer you don’t get paid to write, which means that you have to either liven the dole, which I guess a lot of ‘writers’ do in Britain or have a job that is “not writing” which means that it takes even longer to “get good.” quite frankly if I’m going to invest the amount of time it takes to write a book I want to see some return for that. Which the system he supports won’t give me. If I thought it would I probably would have written a book or two by now.

    1. Another issue here about time: Shopping a novel the tradpub way takes *years,* and once you get into your 60s, you understand very clearly that time is no longer on your side. It took me five years to sell *The Cunning Blood* to a small press. I tried shopping *Ten Gentle Opportunities* for three years and eventually just got sick of stupid excuses from various tradpub/agentish entities. (It took the threat of Sarah’s pointy boots to get down and do it myself.) In aggregate, that’s eight years of sales I could have had and didn’t, and I resent that loss.

      1. I think that one reason I never tried to write was that I went to Lunacon(The NYC con) and saw the people I would have to turn my work over to. It was a strong disincentive.

  18. The choice between traditional and indie publishing, like most discretionary matters, depends on your objectives, which in turn depend on your motives. With many that go indie, the main motive is to get read, whether or not there’s a monetary return. With many that go traditional, the main motive is the stamp of quality that publishing through a conventional house supposedly confers. And there’s absolutely no point in trying to argue the contrary position to either group.

    I must included here a humorous story. A few years ago, in the letters section of a car magazine, the following query appeared:

    “Dear Editor: I’m installing a new stereo system in my car. Should I point the speakers toward the rear for increased thrust, or toward the roof for increased traction? Yours, etc.”

    The response was equally hilarious:

    “Dear Reader: It all depends on where you live. Does it snow frequently there? If so, you might be advised to go for the extra traction you’d derive from roof orientation. But if not, the 30% reduction in your fuel consumption from a rear orientation would be hard to pass up. In either case, be advised that consistently playing loud rock music will, over time, delaminate your tires. Yours, etc.”

    Honest to God. (I think it was in Car and Driver.)

    1. Hey, get a bullshit question, may as well have fun with it.

      Target Australia some months back advertised a teapot as being awesome for drinking butter or something like that. I Tweeted the screenshot at Targ-Aus and got a humorous reply back. I ended up buying the pot for my kids, who had started to get into enjoying morning tea with their breakfast.

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